Monday, December 26, 2011

The Secret Origin Of Iron Jaw!

Michael Fleisher wrote a truckload of comics for DC and Marvel in the 70's and 80's. He also was a key writer in the brief burst of activity which erupted under the name of "Atlas-Seaboard Comics" in the middle of the 70's. How he came to be a mainstay of that momentary company is a curious tale.

I found some of the story here in an interview from The Amazing World of DC Comics with Joe Orlando. Orlando confirms what I already knew, that Iron Jaw began as a pitch to then editor Orlando from Fleisher.

What I didn't quite realize, was that Fleisher got the chance to pitch the idea of a sword and sorcery Jonah Hex/Conan the Barbarian to DC because of his tenure on Sandman. This version of Sandman was the final pairing of the team of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. After the first issue, Simon and Kirby went their separate ways, but sales reports suggested there might be life in the Sandman concept.

But the classic team was no longer available and so Michael Fleisher and Ernie Chan were pressed into duty. I took a close look at this series here. And a fuller story of these events can be found here.

Anyway, after the relative success of this effort, Fleisher was given a chance to pitch, but was told first to check out the Ironwolf comic in Weird Worlds. What that contributed to the final product aside possibly part of the name is speculative at best.

But for whatever reasons, Orlando rejected the Iron Jaw concept and gave Fleisher the freedom to shop it around. He did, sold it to Atlas-Seaboard where it became a bit of a flagship book for that company.

Meanwhile at DC, Orlando green lighted another sword and sorcery project, Claw the Unconquered by David Michelinie and the aforementioned Ernie Chan. By the time though that book hit the stands, the Iron Jaw run was nearly over at Atlas-Seaboard. What took so long I wonder?

So in the elaborate tapestry of history, we find that Joe Simon and Jack Kirby indirectly gave rise to a project at the heart of yet another publishing effort (however brief) by former Timely and Marvel comics publisher Martin Goodman. How utterly strange.

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